This may be obvious and if it is, I apologize but you said you are somewhat new so thought I'd mention that 'cotton kills' as we say around here. That is, do not wear jeans, cotton or cotton-blend shirts, cotton undies or anything like that when hiking in conditions that could turn cold because it holds moisture and will rob your body of it's warmth.
I've also carried hand-warmers and/or body-warmers as an emergency item in cold conditions, even though I rarely end up using them. I've been brainwashed to think of the worst possible situation and always prepare to 'spend the night' even if I am just planning to go out for a couple of hours. The thing is that you never know when something really awful will happen [like falling and breaking a leg or a sudden whiteout condition, just to name two examples] and a 2-hour hike can turn into a 10-hour hike really fast. A 10-hour hike at the wrong time of day can translate quickly into an overnight stay.
So I like to carry an emergency blanket [the 'emergency bag' type is better in snow or wind], hand/body warmers, a small amount of extra food and water, etc, when hiking in the mountains in winter. At the same time, of course, you don't want a 40-lb pack for a short hike so it's a matter of using common sense based on the specific conditions - a heavily-traveled trail near the city obviously doesn't call for as many precautions as a remote trail where you might not see anyone else for days. Over the years, I've collected a lot of light-weight 'emergency gear' that could save my life if I got stranded under bad conditions - the whole collection of emergency items weighs only a couple of pounds and I don't always need all of it so I pick and choose depending on where I'm going and who I'm going with.
I'll second the idea of layers, gaiters and hiking poles, too - even in warmer or drier weather, short gaiters can keep ticks out of your pants and socks and hiking poles distribute the effort across your body, which prevents injuries and increases calorie burn as much as 40% according to some studies. I think arm warmers are the best invention ever along with ear warmers and gloves, of course. Sometimes it's not that I need more 'warmth' but just protection from the wind so I often find that a really light rain jacket [like the Marmot PreCip] and matching rain pants keep me warmer than another layer of wool.
Have a great time hiking!!
Lynda in Orange County, So Calif
God Grant me Serenity to Accept the things I cannot change, Courage to Change the things I can and Wisdom to Know the difference!
Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. -- John Wooden
"Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit."
| Pounds lost: 20.0